STANLY COUNTY, N.C. - Police in Stanly County are investigating an arson and possible hate crime after a woman's car was set on fire and "KKK" was spray-painted on the side of her home.
The victim said she and her family are very concerned about their safety after receiving multiple threats from the community. They believe this is in retaliation for a murder they did not commit.
"People have this much hate in their heart, they could do something like this," a family member said. "This community is usually a tight-knit community. So for something like this to happen, it makes you sad and makes you upset at the same time."
She said she believes the crime is linked to the murder of 19-year-old Taylor Liles.
Deputies said Liles' boyfriend LeQuinton Melton badly beat her last weekend, then took her to the hospital, where she later died.
Melton's family members said they were heartbroken. But since this weekend, they said they have gotten constant threats, some of them racial.
In one message, a man said, "Take this entire family cause that is where he learned all this hate from so they should be tortured too."
Wednesday night's arson case was at the home of Melton's stepmother.
"We have a judicial system in place. We should allow it to work, that's what it's in place for," Norwood Police Chief James Wilson said. "We will not tolerate any acts of vigilantism in the community, the county. We will pursue and prosecute those to the fullest who attempt to take the law into their own hands."
"We should all be coming together as a community and celebrating the life of this woman and praying for everyone involved," a family member said.
The State Bureau of Investigations is involved in the case, processing the car and looking for clues that will lead to an arrest.
Police are also offering a $500 reward for information.
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